'You Messed With the Wrong Generation': Tens of Thousands March Against Netanyahu Across Israel

Recent demonstrations have been characterized by violent incidents against protesters ■ Police disseminate fake news on protesters arming themselves ■ Four arrested in Tel Aviv and later released under minimal restrictions

Noa Shpigel
Bar Peleg
Josh Breiner
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Protesters calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Tel Aviv's Habima Square, October 10, 2020
Protesters calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Tel Aviv's Habima Square, October 10, 2020Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Noa Shpigel
Bar Peleg
Josh Breiner

Tens of thousands of Israelis protested across the country in hundreds of locations on Saturday night against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the extension of "special emergency" measures, which allow the government to limit demonstrations as part of efforts to combat the coronavirus.

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Since the legislation curbing protests went into effect, demonstrators have , in accordance with the coronavirus lockdown. These have continued even despite reports of police violence directed at protesters and arrests.

Hundreds gathered at various junctions in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Pardes Hannah, where a protester was attacked last week. Dozens more were scattered along highways and bridges all over the country. In various cities people formed “human chains,” in compliance with social distance guidelines.

Protesters begin marching from Tel Aviv's Habima Square

One protester was arrested after undercover cops started pulling him while he was broadcasting a live video on Facebook. He tried to get away, not realizing they were police.

The police came under criticism for issuing a statement implying that the Crime Minister organization, one of the protests' organizers, had called on protesters to arm themselves in order to confront police officers. They were forced to retract the allegation after it became clear it was fabricated.

Protest march, which originated in Kiryat Tivon in the north, nears Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, October 6, 2020.
Protest march, which originated in Kiryat Tivon in the north, nears Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, October 6, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman

"Calls came from various sources on social media asking for supply of tear gas and other offensive means for demonstrators to use against police," the statement said. An hour later, Israel Police announced that it "had not not published on their behalf and that it was fake news." 

Clashes in Tel Aviv

During last week's protests, police actively enforced social distancing rules by having officers circulate between demonstrators handing out fines. On Saturday, it initially seemed that officers were present in limited numbers, mostly waiting on the outskirts of optional marching routes, especially in Tel Aviv.

Four protesters were arrested in Tel Aviv during clashes between protesters and law enforcement, police said, adding that dozens of fines had also been given. The protest, which was decentralized and purposefully disorganized to trump the police's kettling tactics, ended a little around midnight.

All four protesters were later under minimal restrictions. Police said they arrested the protesters for disrupting public order, vandalizing property, and disturbing police officers in the line of duty.

One protester was arrested after undercover cops started pulling him while he was broadcasting a live video on Facebook. He tried to get away, not realizing they were police.

About 300 people demonstrated in Dizengoff Square, where a protest convoy of dozens of cyclists with black flags passed by on its way to other protest epicenters in the city.

In the iconic Rabin Square, hundreds of demonstrators, most of them families with children, managed to maintain relative social distance.

Clashes later broke out with police when marchers reached police barriers near the piazza, and dozens of officers attempted to keep protesters from passing. Many succeeded in breaching the barriers. Several claimed they had been hit with eggs thrown from nearby houses.

The march, along with two others that started from other demonstrations in Tel Aviv, all converged and concluded at Habima Square, where they joined hundreds shouting "You messed with the wrong generation." Thousands of them marched north, with a few of them put up a 10-square-meter sign on Marmorek Street that read "State in Captivity."

The police said that they had arrested a suspect for spray painting a police cruiser. “Disturbers of the peace clashed with officers who were standing at barriers and attacked them while throwing objects at them. A number of officers were injured and treated at the scene,” police said.

Organizers prepare larger action for coming Saturday

Protesters, seen from above, gather in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Square, October 10, 2020.
Police clashing with anti-Netanyahu protesters in Tel Aviv, October 10, 2020.
Protesters calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Tel Aviv's Habima Square, October 10, 2020
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Protesters, seen from above, gather in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Square, October 10, 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
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Police clashing with anti-Netanyahu protesters in Tel Aviv, October 10, 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
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Protesters calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Tel Aviv's Habima Square, October 10, 2020Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

In Jerusalem, protested reported to being assaulted by a Netanyahu supporter who hurled a rock at them and forcefully took one of their flags. According to the protesters, a police officer they flagged refused to intervene and instead made sure they maintained social distancing.

The Crime Minister protest group released a statement saying "We will no longer cooperate with the dictatorial laws and limitations on the right to protest while Bibi and his ministers deride the rules," a reference to the string of government figures .

The group said that the protest is a "warm-up" for a demonstration outside the prime minister's official residence on Jerusalem's Balfour Street next Saturday night when the "special state of emergency" that limits the right to protest beyond a kilometer from one's home expires.

"We will wear masks, we will keep our distance and we will proudly call for Corrupt-yahu's resignation, and for him to account for the violence against protesters across the nation," it said.

The protest organization Habalbatim, which has been active in organizing the protests across from the Prime Minister's official residence, will have activists broadcasting live streams on Facebook from dozens of protest locations around Israel.

More violence

Recent demonstrations have been characterized by violent incidents against protesters across Israel. On Thursday, a number of violent attacks on protesters took place at various intersections.

In Ra’anana a stone was thrown at protesters from a moving vehicle. Protesters in Tel Aviv were pelted with eggs on Namir Road. Additional violent incidents took place at Tel Aviv’s Habima Square, in Holon and Kfar Saba.

A motorcycle police officer documented punching a protester, Tel Aviv, October 3, 2020.

On Friday, Israel Police arrested a suspect who allegedly threw eggs at protesters from a moving vehicle. He was released on bail. Out of dozens of violent incidents against protesters, only has been filed.

Earlier on Saturday, outside Netanyahu's home in Caesarea and handed out fines to the participants for violating the coronavirus lockdown.

About 130 people participated in the demonstration, to which they arrived on bicycles, and police handed out fines for disturbing the peace and violating the coronavirus lockdown. 

According to a statement, officers arrived at the scene after someone reported the protest, and that they carried out "enforcement of the emergency measures against bicycle riders in Caesarea who violated the lockdown rules." 

On Thursday, called on Netanyahu to step down due to his indictments in three criminal cases. A day earlier, the government had approved a one-week extension on the emergency regulations which allow the government to limit demonstrations to no more than 1000 meters from a participant's home.

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